Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Valentine’s Day is almost here.  Are you perhaps looking forward to one of the heart shaped boxes of candy?  I am.

If you are looking for a sweet treat to make for someone special on Valentine’s Day, I can recommend these cookies.  These Strawberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chips are a one bowl, no beaters required cookie.  The bright pink color, white chocolate chips, and strawberry flavor are a perfect combination.

Using a boxed cake mix, these Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies are easy to make.  They just may become your favorite treat.

Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy
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1 (15.25 ounce) box strawberry cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

In a large bowl, add the cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs, and strawberry extract.  Stir with a spoon until a dough forms and mixture is thoroughly combined.  Fold in the white chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.  This will make the dough easier to shape into balls.

While the dough is chilling, line two large baking pans with parchment paper (or lightly spray with cookng spray).  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop, drop rounded balls of the dough on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.  Once the cookies are done, remove the tray from the oven and let cool on the tray for 10 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to baking racks to cool completely.  Makes approximately 26 cookies.

I don’t live in the country but there are a lot of deer about.  They can actually be very destructive to your plants and flowers.  Here is one that showed up a couple of weeks ago in my backyard.  He didn’t seem to want to leave.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

In case you are not aware of it, there is a fairly new cooking show on the Food Network.  The show is Delicious Miss Brown, hosted by Kardea Brown.  The show debuted on Sunday, July 28th 2019 and is in its second season.

Kardea Brown is a Southern cook born in Charleston, SC.  She is of Gullah/Geechee descent.  The Gullah/Geechee is a term used to describe a distinct group of African Americans living in the coastal region of South Carolina.  Source is Food Network.

The food she makes on her show reflects this heritage.  Miss Brown prepared this cornbread recipe from an episode titled Fishing and Dishing in which she joined her brother on an unsuccessful fishing expedition (didn’t catch any fish).

I hope that you will check out her series.  She explains the preparation and cooking methods in such a fun way and shares recipes that are part of her family and culture.  Her show will remind you of how the Food Network used to be: about cooking instead of the all too many competition cooking shows.

This Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is not your typical Southern cornbread but it is still delicious.  It has a crispy crust, tang from the buttermilk, and slight sweetness from the honey.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped jalapeños
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Transfer the melted butter to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.  Add the buttermilk, honey, and eggs.  Whisk until blended.  Stir in the jalapeños and the Cheddar cheese.  Add the cornmeal mixture and mix until very few lumps remain.

Pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.  Serve with butter.

1.  The Delicious Miss Brown show is on Sundays 12/11c on the Food Network.
2.  Recipe adapted from Kardea’s Sweet Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread recipe and can be found here.  
3.  I used canned diced jalapeños for this recipe.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We didn’t have a white Christmas and this was our weather on December 28th, a warm 52°F.  Below is a picture I took of a squirrel enjoying the warm winter day.

And then, winter returned overnight.  Below picture taken on New Year’s Eve.

Do you like Cinnamon Rolls?  My family loves them.  If you are looking for an easy Cinnamon Roll recipe this is the one.  It uses frozen bread dough that is readily available at most grocery stores.  The Rhodes brand is the one available locally so that is what I used.  It comes in a 3 pound bag with three loaves.  In my opinion, it tastes as good as made from scratch yeast dough.  I have been using the Rhodes brand of frozen dough for many years.  I also like their Texas Rolls that you thaw, let rise, and then bake.

This recipe is great anytime but especially when you don’t have time to make yeast dough from scratch.  You will get soft, tender, and delicious cinnamon rolls.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For Rolls

1 (1 lb) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (such as Rhodes)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

For Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a rectangle, approximately 12×18 inches.  Brush with the melted butter.  Combine the light brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the butter.  Starting on the long side, roll up jelly roll style.  Cut into equal pieces.  Place in an 8 or 9 inch cake pan, sprayed with cooking spray.  Cover rolls with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake at 350°F  15-20 minutes.  Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes and then drizzle or spread the icing over the warm rolls.

For the Icing

Combine the powdered sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla.  Mix well.  

1.  I let the frozen loaf thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
2.  Serve the rolls warm or at room temperature.
3.  Leftover rolls are good after warming in the microwave a few seconds.

Have a safe and Happy New Year.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars have been a family favorite for several years.  Using a cookie mix, this is a fast and easy recipe to bake up.

I do prefer a cookie or bar cookie made from scratch.  However, this is the recipe that the family requests that I make for family and holiday dinners.  If you are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate, I think you will love these bars.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

  • Difficulty: easy
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1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
1 (12 oz) package Nestle Toll House semi-sweet mini morsels

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil with a 1/2 inch overlap.  Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water, and egg until a soft dough forms.  Press into the prepared pan.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes.

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring several times.  Spread evenly over the cooled peanut butter base.  Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.  Remove from pan, cut and serve.  For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.  Makes approximately 36 bars.  

Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks.  Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with lots of good food.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

A pineapple upside down cake is a vintage cake recipe.  The cake gets its upside-down name because the cake pan is first covered with melted brown sugar and butter.  It is then lined with canned pineapple slices and maraschino cherries before the batter gets poured on.  All of which makes for a delicious glazed topping.  After baking, the cake gets inverted to reveal pineapple and cherries on top.

While it may seem like a spring or summer dessert, this is one of my favorite cakes to enjoy year round.  This recipe is especially easy because it uses a Jiffy Cake Mix for a 1 layer yellow cake.  Jiffy cake mixes are usually available in the baking aisle of your favorite grocery store.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 (8 oz) cans Dole Pineapple Slices in 100% Pineapple juice, juice reserved
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
8-10 maraschino cherries
1 (9 ounce) Jiffy Yellow Cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice

Spray an 8-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Drain the pineapple, reserving 1/2 cup juice for the cake batter.  Set the pineapple slices and reserved juice aside.

Stir together the melted butter and light brown sugar in the cake pan.  Place pineapple slices on top of  sugar mixture.  Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice and in the center of the pan.  Set aside.

Using a hand mixer, mix the cake mix, egg and reserved pineapple juice together to combine.  Beat 2-3 minutes on medium speed until well combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the pineapples and cherries.  Bake at 350 degrees F. 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and turn out onto serving platter.  Serve warm or cool.  Store covered in the refrigerator.  

I have on occasion baked the cake in my cast iron skillet.  The cake pan may be easier to bake in due to weight of the cast iron skillet.

1.  You may not need all of the pineapple slices.
2.  A standard sized cake mix (15.25 oz) is too large for this recipe.
3.  Adapted from Allrecipes.

Pumpkin Cake With Caramel Frosting

October is always such a pretty month here in West Michigan and also provides a lot of fun family activities at local orchards.  Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery offers a lot of fun activities such as horse-drawn hayrides, u-pick apples, wine tastings and a corn maze.  Also, their donuts are absolutely amazing.

The two photos below are ones I took at Robinette’s a couple of weeks ago.  The giant pumpkin this year weighs 1,500 pounds and is for sale for $500.  Needless to say I didn’t buy any of the giant pumpkins but it is fun to see them.

The Pumpkin Cake in this post is an easy cake to make and uses canned Libby Pure Pumpkin.  No need to carve a pumpkin for this recipe.  This cake is a single layer cake with a caramel frosting and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. It is easy to make and so delicious with the pumpkin flavor shining through.

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), melted and cooled for 5 minutes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup half and half or milk
12 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons butter, very soft
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Flaky Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides with baking spray.  Line the cake pan with a round of parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar and beat with a hand mixer to combine.  Add the eggs, pumpkin puree and vanilla.  Beat again until well combined.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture until well combined and no lumps remain.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Combine the half and half, unwrapped caramels and brown sugar in large-size, microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes, or until caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.  Stir at 30-second intervals.

Add the vanilla and stir to combine.  With a hand mixer, beat in the soft butter and powdered sugar until combined.  Continue beating until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.  Frost the cake using an offset spatula.  Sprinkle the top of the cake with flaky sea salt and decorate as desired.  


1.  A 9-inch cake pan can be used if you don’t have an 8-inch with 2 inch sides.
2.  Recipe adapted from the cafe sucre farine.  Check out their blog for elegant but easy recipes.

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese is known as a Southern specialty.  The basic recipe has just a few ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and pimentos mixed to a chunky consistency.

While Pimento Cheese is a beloved Southern recipe, it did not originate in the South.  It was probably created through the combined efforts of Northern food manufacturers and cookbook writers in the 1870s  Around the same time, Spain starting sending canned red peppers (pimientos) to the USA.  They became very popular and over time the “i” was dropped from its spelling.

The original Pimento Cheese was created to combine two new products: cream cheese and canned pimentos.  After World War II, home cooks started making their own versions, swapping the cream cheese for cheddar and adding in mayonnaise to combine it all.  Source is Serious Eats.  Check out  their article for more history on this classic recipe.

I have been making homemade Pimento Cheese for a few years now.  It can be used as a spread for crackers, sandwiches, dips, and as a topping for grilled burgers.  A grilled burger topped with pimento cheese takes it to another level of deliciousness.  Try this spread.  I think you will like having it around for snacks.

Pimiento Cheese

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (8) ounce block cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (4 ounce) jar sliced pimentos, drained

In a food processor, process the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and seasonings.  Add the pimentos; pulse to combine.  Transfer the Pimento Cheese from the bowl of the food processor to a plastic container or bowl.  Cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.  Keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.   Makes about 3 cups.  

We have been getting cooler weather which has my summer perennials fading fast.  At least, the Althea bush still has some pretty blooms for us to enjoy.  Enjoy the few remaining days of summer.





Cherry Crumb Pie

Earlier in the summer, I bought 7 pounds of tart cherries from nearby Robinette’s Orchard.  Even with a good cherry pitter, it took a while to pit all of the cherries.  But it was worth the time and effort.  I made a couple of pies and I froze the rest for later use.  One of the pies I made was this Cherry Crumb Pie.

There are a few other orchards nearby that grow cherries (mostly the sweet variety) and occasionally I have seen tart cherries at the local Farmers Markets.  But the main cherry production is in the Grand Traverse area.

Cherry trees were planted there in 1852 by Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian missionary and one of the first European settlers in the Traverse City Area.  As it happened, the cherry trees thrived and today with 3.8 million tart cherry trees.  Michigan produces 70 to 75 percent of the tart cherries grown in the United States.  The primary variety grown is the Montmorency.  This type of cherry is excellent for pies, preserves, and juice.  Source is here.

I did find frozen Michigan tart cherries at a local food specialty store.  Good to know for future pie baking.

Cherry Crumb Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 refrigerated piecrust (such as Pillsbury)

4 cups tart (sour) cherries
1 cup sugar, divided
4 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon almond extract

Crumb Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan and crimp as desired.  Refrigerate until ready to add the pie filling.

Toss the cherries with 1/2 cup of the sugar.  Place in a colander set over a large bowl to catch any juices.  Let sit, stirring occasionally until 1/2 cup of liquid has drained from the cherries.

In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch, and salt,  Add the cherries and the 1/2 cup cherry juice.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2-4 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat; stir in the almond extract.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a food processor bowl, mix the granulated sugar, light brown sugar,  flour, and salt together.  Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly; it should still have a dry look to it – don’t over process.  Add the nuts and pulse till coarsely ground.  Set aside.

Pour the cherry filling mixture into the unbaked pie shell.  Sprinkle the almond crumb mixture over the cherry filling.  Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling.  If necessary, cover the pie with foil to prevent excessive browning.  Remove the baked pie to a wire rack and cool before serving.


Here is a pretty butterfly enjoying the fading Bee Balm.  I feel like our summer is fading as fast as the Bee Balm.

Peach Ice Cream

I think most of us like ice cream.  I nearly always have a store bought variety in my freezer.  But homemade ice cream is so much better.  I have made strawberry ice cream and blueberry swirl in my ice cream maker and loved both flavors.

But, this homemade peach ice cream may now be my favorite.  It is a non custard type ice cream which makes it even easier to prepare.  Even without an egg custard base, it is still rich and delicious tasting.

You can use whole milk or Half and Half, but I recommend the heavy cream.  The heavy cream along with the pureed peaches will result in a silky-smooth homemade ice cream.

I used 1 cup of sugar because the peaches I had were not very sweet.  Less sugar can be used, if desired.

If you can find local grown peaches, that is even better.  I found some Brightstar peaches at nearby Robinettes Orchard that I used for this recipe.

Peach Ice Cream

3 medium sized peaches,  peeled, pitted  and coarsely chopped (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In a medium sized bowl, toss together the chopped peaches and lemon juice.

Place the chopped peaches into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Pulse the peaches until pureed. (I had about 1 1/2 cups puree.)  Reserve in the bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the heavy cream, sugar, salt, and almond extract until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the reserved peach puree.  Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

Turn on the ice cream maker; pour the ice cream mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.  The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture.  If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.  Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

1.  Makes about 5 cups of ice cream.
2.  I used freezing instructions for the Cuisinart Ice 21 ice cream maker.  You will need to freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer.  I will leave you with a picture of a young cardinal that was hanging out in the Althea bush in my yard.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Local sweet cherries are available now.  They seem to be especially sweet this year.  I like to buy local cherries from one of my favorite orchards, Robinette’s which  is where I got the sweet cherries for the Barbecue Sauce recipe.

Years ago when I first discovered Robinette’s, it was just a very small orchard with an Apple Haus and a gift barn.  Over the years it has grown to include a bakery, winery, and a lot of family activities.  It is nearby and is still my favorite orchard.  Robinette’s must be doing something right, because they have been in business since 1911.

They also grow the hard to find fresh sour (tart) cherries. As well as the sweet cherries, I bought 7 pounds of their sour cherries for pies.


There are a lot of ways to enjoy the local sweet cherries.  Although, I think possibly the best way is to just eat them one right after the other.  However, this Cherry Barbecue Sauce is a great way to enjoy a savory recipe using sweet cherries.  It tastes great on grilled pork or chicken.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups pitted sweet cherries, roughly chopped
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or ketchup)
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the cherries and cook until they are heated through.

Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, honey, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes.  Sir occasionally.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.  Then transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a container and cool to room temperature.    Cover tightly with a cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Yields about 2 1/2 cups.  

Summer seems to be going by way too fast.  My Bee Balm was pretty this year but is now fading fast.  It is a good thing that the butterflies don’t seem to mind.

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